Dead End Job Queen asks for career advice!

Yes, I am the Dead End Job Queen. I’m one of those “starving artist” types that has a lot of art projects going on (sometimes shows or exhibitions) while holding down a dead-end job to pay the bills. I have a great background in art, a wonderful formal education—but no degree. Long story behind this. Mostly it was the expense, and the fact that at the time I went to art school (Otis in L.A.) I wanted to be a freelance illustrator. No need for a degree in that career, my teachers told me. So, I took the classes, got the great education, but didn’t get the degree. So there you are.

Now, fast foward to today. I am mumble mumble years old. It’s not too late for me to go back to school and get further education, but I’m no longer in the first blush of youth, either. I no longer live in L.A., where my freelance illustrator skills (and art skills in general) could perhaps be in some small demand. No, I’m exiled in “Hooterville” (my name for the middling-large midwestern town I live in), where such art jobs are in short supply.

I may be leaving my current dead end job (in a health-related field), which was very nice in many ways. (Worked for the State, great benefits, etc.) But there are things about this current job that are unacceptable, including its low pay.

Therefore, I have been urged by several family members to get some sort of “certificate” or lower degree in the health field, so that I can get a better sort of dead end job. Or perhaps (fancy this) not a dead end job at all!

I looked at the local junior college’s “certficate” programs, and they have more than a few that I think I could handle. Practical nurse, medical transcription certificate, etc. Some look a little too hard (I never liked math, and biology? Yikes!) but maybe I could give it a shot. There are also other certificates—like one in Digital Art Prepress, paralegal, and so forth.

If I were to go for a “regular” degree (Bachelor’s, Master’s), I would only consider an art degree. And that’s something I would like to do sometime down the road. So I have no interest in investing a lot of time getting a degree in nursing, or anything like that. (Though my sister is an LPN (?) and she said it only took her a year to complete the program—but it was an intensive program.) I just want some sort of certificate or go through some sort of program that would take a year or so to complete, and would open a few more employment options for me.

I guess I am asking for some general advice on this matter: Which of these kind certificates are actually worth anything? I know that many jobs in the health field are in great demand, but which positions are the most in demand?

My advice to you in this situation is to do a little vocational research. Take a career decision-making course if you can find one offered nearby. I took a few of these, and they can be extremely helpful in helping you focus on what you do (or don’t) want to do for a living, and they also have instructors that are very knowledgeable about what’s out there with regard to courses, certificates, programs, etc. You’re in a great position where you have lots of work experience, lots of educational experience, ahem maturity and decision-making skills, and you have the time to figure out which path to try next. And, in my vast experience, these type of courses are just plain fun as well.

Sounds like you’re looking for a magic pill - not too expensive, not too painful, over quickly, then everything - income, social status, mobility, etc., will all be much, much better.

Let me know what you find, 'K?

I could use a couple myself

:rolleyes: Where did I say that, exactly? Please copy and paste the exact statement where I expressed such lofty expectations.

Since when does seeking additional education lessen one’s career options? Pray tell?

But, oh well, I guess I should not be shocked that you’d come up with such a response.

The Magic Eight Ball sez… “Answer Unclear”

Damn thing - Shake Shake

" yosemitebabe - You will get a real estate license and make an excellent living selling real estate. You will meet a handsome but shy medical doctor with a dry and ironic sense of humor who would rather be a musician while showing him a house. He will fall in love with and marry you. You will have a surprise 8 lb 3 oz baby with long eyelashes and live in a house on the water surrounded by trees."

How odd… it’s never said that before.

Well, I used to do medical transcription, and still do it once and a while as a favor to people. You do make pretty good money - I charge $20/hour which doesn’t suck; however, it’s not something I can imagine anyone wanting to do long term.

Some advantages include that you can contract yourself out, and work from home, which enables you to set your own hours and work on side art projects. However, if you go that route, you go without benefits.

Another option is to get into the steno pool at a local university (if they have a Facutly of Medicine, they’ll probably have a clinic attached - you’d be typing patient letters, records, etc). Most will offer their employees free courses, or a discount on courses, so you could work towards a BFA while you worked.

It helps if you’re a good typest already; however, you can probably pick up those skills if need be - assuming you haven’t lost any fingers in some bizarre art accident. :slight_smile:

Anyhow - good luck with your choice.

I’m considering going back to school for a certificate of some kind in a few years myself, so this is a good topic for me too.
Locally, Ivy Tech offers several programs in health-related fields–LPN, various tech certifications (X-ray tech, surgical tech, etc). I watch the want ads and notice that there is definitely a demand for people in those fields. Pay seems to start somewhere in the $15-20+/hr range. Not huge bucks, but decent if you like the work and get benefits.
Maybe you could make an appointment with the career counselor at your local community/tech/whatever school? That would probably help you pinpoint some specifics about possible careers, demand for different positions, etc.

OTOH, I deliver newspapers, which I believe is about as dead-end as you can get, jobwise. But I love it! I make more than I would in retail or any other dead-end job, plus the benefit of getting some solitude (very big deal for a mom of 4). If I don’t go into some kind of cert program, I’ll probably try to get on as a District Manager at the paper. Weird hours, occasionally very hectic, but apparently they make pretty good money, and when things are slower they all LOVE their jobs.

Let us know if you get any good info, 'kay? Thanks, and best of luck with your choice.


Have you considered becoming a medical illustrator? I did a Google search on “medical illustrator” + “career” and got back lots of results. Here’s one:

hmmmm…when I preview, the link doesn’t come out right…just in case, here it is as text:

yosemitebabe health care does seem to be the biggest chance for decent employment right now. Have you considered the possibility of completing your BFA coupled with a teaching certificate? I realize there might not be a real high demand for art teachers where you live but if teaching does not totally make you gag, it might be away to combine art with a job.

Around here, hospitals and health care agencies are offering sign on bonuses for both RN’s and LPN’s. You might want to check out what types of services for the elderly are provided in your area, as this is an up and coming occupational field.

My maths sucked and I was scared of the sciences but I took it one class at a time and I’m a Registered Nurse now. I graduated at age 39 and I love my job. In California, RNs start at 20.00 an hour. I work three 12 hour days and get good benefits. My hospital offers scholarships and part-time jobs while you’re in school with hours that accomodate your class-time. I have an AS degree and you need a BA to teach around here, but there’s lots of different kinds of nurses, even nurse educators.

Y-babe, how tied-down are you to where you’re at? Meaning, if you have the freedom to go where the jobs are in the art/design field, I’d do it.


See, I’ve been looking for a mid-level graphic design job for six months now and the market is dry. Bone dry. As dry as dry can be. Dryer 'n’a snakes a*… er, ahem.

But there ARE jobs to be had, there’s just a lot more competition for them and you might have to broaden your search-scope geographically to find what’s a good fit.

'Fore you do that, though, I guess the first question that’s got to be answered is – What do you want to DO with your life? :smiley:

Do you really want a better-paying-but-still-just-as-dead-end job? Or do you want to work in your preferred field?

You may also want to broaden your job-search to something design-related. As in - after six months of looking, I decided to bite the bullet and learn some web-design software, even though I’d much rather design for print. But there seem to be more jobs around for people who know web-design, so I’ve now broadened my knowledgebase to cover some of the basic software.

If that doesn’t pan out, I might follow the lead of one of my wife’s cow-orkers. She’s taking a year-long class to get her web-admins certificate. According to her, that job field is fairly open, pays well, and not as fickle as the graphic-design field.

Upshot is, though you want something that’ll primarily pay the bills, IMHO going into a dead end job that’s not remotely related to your level of interest could wind up being a serious drain on your creativity. Better to find something closer to where your interest lies, I think.

Wow, thanks so much, everyone! (Well, except happyheathen… :rolleyes: )

It’s good to know that there are so many possibilities in the health related field. I don’t have a major problem with working in the health field (my sister, a nurse, says I have some aptitude for it). I am proud of the job I currently hold, at least in some respects. I am glad to be helping people. Of course I’d like to work in an art field, (and won’t give up completely on the idea) but prospects in this area are pretty slim. And I cannot move to somewhere else at this time. (If I could, boy howdy, I would SO be outta here!)

I am relatively satisfied if I have a decent amount of free time at home to work on my web design and art projects. And yes, I think it would be nice someday to be able to teach art, so getting a degree for that sounds like a nice idea. (After all, one of my current web projects is a 100+ website with drawing tutorials!) So, working on an art degree down the road would be kinda nice. But right now I need something “practical” to get me a little more decent job. I don’t need the big, big bucks—$15 (hell, even $13) an hour and up would be all right for now. My living expenses are not very high and I don’t think I have elaborate or ultra-expensive tastes (except for Macintosh computers! :wink: )

So, a health-related job would be just fine. I just want it to be in a different atmosphere than the job I currently hold (which is health-related). There is a long story behind all the things wrong with my current job, but I won’t relate them all here. Suffice it to say that if I had more qualifications, I’d be able to pick and choose a little more, and find an employer that wasn’t so flakey and disorganized. It seems like some of the more dead-end jobs have MAJOR problems in this area. (Not that other jobs are immune from the problem, of course…) It’s very stressful, especially when (being a health-related field) someone’s wellbeing is on the line, and I am responsible for them. So when I discover that my bosses and “higher ups” are serious flakes? It’s scary. I am eager to move on to something a little more stable. And if I have to work at a gas station or a Hallmark store for a year while I get a certificate, I guess that’s what I’ll do.

Tygr: Oh yes, I do know what you mean. I’d LOVE it if I could get some design related certificate in something that would get me a job jb around here. And maybe I’ll work on that on the side as well. There are some web-related jobs in this area, but once again, nothing quite competes with the availability of health-related work.

Ahem, I should have said, “one of my current web projects is a 100+ page website…”

And I previewed. I did.